It’s crystal clear by this point that there is no handbook on how to live through a global pandemic. 2022 arrived with a lot of hope but not much change. The virus is still alive and well and wreaking havoc on our health and on society in general. If that sounds defeatist, I must tell you I feel anything but. Heck, we have made it through two years of this and we’re still standing. Bring it!
I don’t mean to be cavalier in any way but honestly I am not alone when I say we are all tired of this and ready to move on. The frustration over whether to get a vaccine (or three!) and/or wear a mask has morphed into an attitude of “whatever” for many. If a person chooses to put themselves at risk, so be it. The other day at Costco, a woman gleefully refused the mask offered her at the door and swept into the store, maskless. Several people called her out but she just threw a glance over her shoulder stating if they were scared they should stay home. While this attitude is celebrated by many, I could not get past the absolute selfishness of this woman. What about the people who get up to work each day so she could shop to her heart’s content? And yet, the feeling I had after she disappeared into the store was of letting go. I can’t worry about everyone.
Global crises are not new. Our parents lived through a world war when nothing was certain and there was no time limit to look forward to. Food and supply rationing was common. Families separated, many never returning home. Our grandparents lived through a devastating economic depression and the Spanish Flu, another global pandemic. There is no doubt each event is a purging and a reckoning for the human species. We’re all so tired and yet we can’t give up. We are at the mercy of forces other than ourselves. Despite best efforts, living things cannot determine the trajectory of their own evolution. Mistakes are made, concessions are made, something tiny like a virus can put us on an entirely new path. Sometimes you can roll with it. Sometimes you can’t.
This pandemic has definitely given us the time to reflect on what the hell is happening and why. The first year, life all but screeched to a halt. The next, we were out and about again. Now we’re hibernating once more although many of us are determined to live life regardless. New information on both sides of the issue is revealed every day. Who to believe? It feels crazy, a little like Alice in Wonderland. “One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small” sings Jefferson Airplane in their song White Rabbit. Three shots and a mask are the weapons I have been given. I have a brain and a heart to make my own decisions. I believe in the science. Yet, we are still getting sick albeit less severe with vaccines. The information swirls around us. This or that? Science or conspiracy? Faith and trust and fingers crossed. It’s all we can do to keep our sanity or lose it, which has sadly been another byproduct of this pandemic.
In spite of all that, I have decided to embrace the positive. Try to find the silver lining in these crazy, unsettled times. There’s never a good time for a global pandemic, after all. There have to be some lessons here. Each one of us needs to find what this means for ourselves. For me, the Grail was the bonding of my family. If that sounds like an oxymoron, so be it. But despite, or maybe because, of the pandemic and quarantine, my family has grown closer. Texts and phone calls and lots of Zoom. Checking in with each other. How wonderful to realize my grass is greener already and I need look no further!
Buddhist monk and philosopher Thich Nhat Hanh wrote “The best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment”. If life these past two plus years have taught us anything, it’s that the present moment is all we have. My worry and fear about the future means nothing if I don’t take care about today. We all have to do the best we can with what we have. Sometimes just getting out of bed is a victory. We need to be kinder to ourselves. No one has this down, no matter what outward appearances suggest. This is and has been a massive upheaval in all areas of human life: health, politics, climate, relationships. It’s been overwhelming.
This morning I saw a bumper sticker that said “Human-kind: let’s strive to be both”. And I decided I would make that the dream, the wish, the magic spell. Stay safe and well, friends!